Updated 02/02/15 – 6:33 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A large chain-reaction crash, involving 45 vehicles, snarled traffic on Interstate 294 on Monday morning.
The crash happened just around 9:15 a.m. in the southbound lanes just north of 95th street, after an Illinois State Police squad car was rear-ended by another vehicle. That caused a chain reaction, involving at least three semi-tractor trailer trucks that jackknifed. Police said the chain reaction was partly the result of black ice in the area.
Police say 45 vehicles were involved in the resulting pileup, and at 8 people were taken to hospitals for minor injuries. 20 cars had to be towed from the expressway.
The southbound lanes were blocked for nearly two hours while damaged cars were removed from the road, and plows cleared and salted the road.
Traffic was backed up to the Hinsdale Oasis, and cars were being detoured onto Interstate 55. Traffic began moving in at least two lanes around 11:20 a.m. and as of 3:45 p.m., all lanes were open for traffic.
CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports the Denny’s parking lot, just off the tollway at 95th, became an automotive triage center with dozens of fractured front ends, and wrecked rears, like Chuck Salazar’s Dodge.
“It happened pretty quick, real quick,” said Chuck Salazar.
Hours after the impact, some were still shaken up.
“The guy behind me didn’t slow down in time, clipped me, so I go have a good time, run into the back of a semi,” said Gavin Coyle.
Drivers blamed icy road conditions for the frightening pile-up. That, combined with sun glare, led to the chain reaction that seemed to go on and on.
“The road was good and then it just turned to ice real quick,” Bill Hieckhaefer.
He was lucky and only suffered bumper damage after being hit by a semi. U of I grad student Clayton Hurbst and his Ford Focus were not so lucky.
“A van came out in front of me, slammed on the brakes and I tried to stop but it was so icy, I just slammed into the back of it,” Hurbst said.
Police advised motorists to exit the Tri-State at Interstate 55, then take I-55 to LaGrange Road, and head south to 95th Street, and then re-enter I-294.
Northbound traffic was not affected.